20 Nov 2008

The events, exhibition and conferencing industry has access to an incredible amount of advanced technology, but it’s a mistake to think that an event will be an automatic success by using the latest and most dynamic technology available. DB Systems (DB) provides bespoke AV solutions for some of the biggest shows and exhibitions around the world, and one of the most important pieces of advice its Sales Director, Oliver Richardson, would give to clients is this - it’s not the technology you use, but how you use it.

There is an overwhelming range of AV & IT technology to choose from, but exhibitors and marketing professionals should never feel in awe of this technology.

In fact, I believe it should be the AV & IT partner that makes the decision as to what technology should be used. Ideally, AV & IT partners should work closely with exhibition stand builders and designers. This hands-on approach ensures clients receive the best possible AV & IT solution and avoids those annoying and often expensive technological pitfalls.

But, if you are going to invest in high-end, bespoke technology then use it for the right reasons, not just because it’s the latest thing. The choice of technology is a balance between cost and practical event logistics. At EBACE2008, we helped Lea International create a unique exhibition feature at for its client, Cessna, the manufacturer of business jets and single engine aircraft.

The client required a technically challenging AV design, which included the provision of a horizontal, single array of 38 LCD screens on a convex curved wall. Our solution was to source 19” screens with the narrowest possible bezel to allow for a minimal (7mm) gap between screens across the curve. This was vital as we wanted the footage and scrolling text to run as smoothly and seamlessly as possible across all 38 screens. It was the use of the Dataton Watchout™ system that allowed the footage to run from one end of the screen display to the other, and not just across pairs of screens.

While this was an innovative solution, at times an AV partner has to consider novel ways of using more tried-and-tested technology to give innovative results.

However, sometimes it’s inevitable that you have to use advanced technology. At the 2008 Farnborough Airshow, a 3D holographic projection theatre was installed to play a virtual presentation of a client’s latest aircraft engine complete with a holographic male presenter standing at the side of a live stage. This was an appropriate use of advanced technology to achieve this difficult brief as it illustrated the inner workings of the product in a show-stopping, memorable way.

As well as taking into account the type of technology, in today’s financial climate clients and AV suppliers also have to consider whether or not to make the investment in equipment and technologies. But I would argue that an AV partner should not allow this to significantly influence decisions.

Recently, I was asked by a top London exhibition design agency to upgrade a large exhibition project from DVD playback to Blu-Ray playback (HD). In this situation the agency and I agreed to invest in PS3s as the playback device as they were perfect for this job and they also have a wider range of usage to a rental company in the long term.

So, regardless of whether you are using standard or advanced technology, it is best to use whatever is appropriate to the audience and the brand message, and whatever best blends in with the exhibition stand. A fair definition of the incorrect use of technology is when it gets noticed for the wrong reasons, or if the technology is noticed more than the message, and sadly this does happen occasionally.

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